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What would be the punishment/penalty for sexual harassment at work?

Concord, CA |
Filed under: Sexual harassment

I hugged a person and asked for a kiss for couple of times which is negated by the person. So I released her and left the place....This is reported as sexual harassment and what would be the punishment/penalty for this action?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    I can only address the potential civil consequences of the conduct. The unconsented touching and request for a kiss is clearly inappropriate conduct in the workplace. As to consequences, there are several possible:

    1. You may get fired, or disciplined in some way, and you may be required to go through remedial training on sexual harassment in the workplace. The employer must make a record of dealing with a harasser appropriately to avoid future large exposure if you or another engages in similar conduct.

    2. You may get your employer sued. If you are a supervisor, either direct or indirect, of this employee, your actions create strict liability for the employer. If the conduct rises to the level of "severe or pervasive" your employer can be liable to the employee under several theories.

    3. You may get sued personally. A harasser in the workplace can be sued individually for the harassment that is done by him or her. This gives the employee the right to sue you directly for money damages, including the employee's attorney fees, expert fees and costs, along with punitive damages. In addition to harassment, the unconsented touching and request for kisses might also be used to state a claim for battery and assault, an intentional tort against you personally, also giving the employee the right to seek emotional distress and punitive damages against you.

    4. Your ability to get your next job might be adversely effected. If you are terminated for this conduct, it is possible that when a future potential employer contacts your present employer for a reference, the present employer can truthfully tell the potential employer that you were terminated for alleged sexual harassment of a co-worker.

    Sexually harassing another in the workplace is a very serious offense. It has very serious civil repercussions, and potential criminal exposure. It is NEVER appropriate to hug a person and request a kiss in the workplace, unless it is your wife or child. Consider that a VERY bright line.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


  2. It depends- the victim could file a criminal charge od assault by contact, which is usually a misdemeanor. There is also a possibility of the victim filing a civil claim against you for assault. You should go visit with an employment law attorney in California and get legal advice.

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  3. From what you describe it could result in you being terminated but, it doesn't sound like it rises to the level of criminal conduct for which you could be prosecuted.

    Nothing in this communication should be construed as creating an attorney client relationship. This is for informational purposes only. Attorney will take no action on your behalf unless and until a written retainer agreement is signed. There are strict time deadlines on filing claims and, as such, you are advised to consult with and retain an attorney immediately to file such claims timely or you will lose any right to recovery.

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